Re: Opponents seek to stop desert dumping, AP article by Scott Sonner, March 3.
Thank you for giving front page coverage to the recent meeting in Carson City between the Nevada State Environmental Commission and environmentalists. I was glad to see such thorough coverage of the commission's questionable decision to allow the dumping of toxic wastes from the now defunct Wind Mountain Mine near Gerlach.
More people need to know that Nevada is the third largest producer of gold in the world. Even though this mine is small, the commission's decision to allow toxic drainage into the soil sets a frightening precedent.
According to Great Basin Mine Watch, in Nevada there are 200 leach heaps like the Wind Mountain Mine. Because these mines use cyanide to leach out gold and silver, our state is left with toxic residues that put all of us at risk. At Wind Mountain, cyanide concentrations have dropped to less than 0.2 milligrams per liter, which is within state legal limits. But other contaminants exceed legal levels. According to Glenn Miller a UNR Professor and chairman of the Great Basin Mine Watch, the Wind Mountain Mine heap contains 700 tons of salts and enough selenium to make the groundwater unusable.
I have a home near the Carson River. My daughter and I play in the water during the summer. I rely on agencies like the Nevada State Environmental Commission to keep my water and soil safe. I now wonder what mines exist upriver from my home. Mining is very big business in Nevada, and the decision to allow toxic dumping from heap leach mines has huge implications for all of us.